Thursday, November 3, 2011

Third world networkers view on Openstack/Openflow and Cisco

Ever since Cisco announced their support for  openstack and software defined networking; I was happy, happy that they won't be left out and happy that maybe just maybe this information would be digested by a company I am 'more invested in'. I cant wait for instance for the 'promised' support on the nexus.

But cracks are appearing. The more the network gets closer to getting virtualized, I realize how silly it is of me to 'wait' and see instead of maybe getting in there and contributing something. Let me explain:

What this will mean is new books have to be written. First to explain the concept, the technologies and in the future its support. looking at the old ones, updates will probably be written almost daily.

And what happens to companies that invest alot of cash on lets say FCoE only to realize customers are not interested, or realize it wont scale, or wont matter squat in multivendor environments because other vendors have decided to go their way?

The data center is still morphing. We still don't have important standards for lets say 'cloud' 2 'cloud' mobility. Again this have to be done. Heck down here using cloud is still hindered by access (say what you want 3G is not good enough, and broadband penetration is still sucky). So while some big companies benefit from companies like Safaricom shelling out some serious cash for several nexus, and going by how accounting tends to be done, expect it to be out of reach for most people.
source: Juniper Networks

So over and above everything else -and there's quite alot to be done - Im looking at how I can make direct contributions to openstack and a few other areas of interest to me even if its just simply learning and talking about it:

We have huge gaps in Africa. It is very easy for technology to pass us by because:

1: the best discussions and forums and meetups happen in Europe or the in the US. When nice things happen around here, they almost always happen in SA, Kenya or Egypt (not much anymore). but travel within Africa is crazy expensive. A flight to senegal from kenya is costlier than a flight to Berlin for instance. However its harder getting the visa to visit berlin - its a friggin pain.
2: Most companies here consume products/technology and rarely innovate. So you won't for  instance find a Kenyan writing RFC's because - well Im not sure why but personally the fact that I dont really get down to work with new technologies enough to be the 'go to guy' makes me feel like I am better off just waiting - until now:-)
3: Groups like afnog are like nanog focused on training.
4: Money and general social security - I have learnt first hand how difficult it is to focus on 'new' stuff while constantly worrying about how to make basic ends meet.  Im stuck in this weird 'fear' loop at the moment thats driving me nuts. but more on this later and probably elsewhere.
5: Its really really hard to focus on a single area of interest (ok maybe Im speaking for me on this one). After 10+ years in service providers, getting excited in data center technologies was not easy - fun but not straight forward- upon realizing i could pick it up faster than most helped.

So much that Im currently looking at HP's solutions for this area (between trying to get the cisco DC certification) and going Hmmm! They (HP) have a full inhouse stack that should make them very competitive in this market in direct competition to Cisco UCS.

I imagine cisco and Juniper at a classic 'innovators dilemma'. If they dont deal with this, companies like Nicira will have a really nice and easy time. It will take time to get market share but I can see them getting there if the incumbents dont innovate. well they will I suspect outright buy a startup out....we'll see...

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